How Much Real Difference Is There Between Flours? (Karen Gentry is Back :)

 Hey Everyone!

The temps are cooling and autumn is a great time for baking homemade breads once more.

Karen Gentry from Where Flours Bloom is back today to let us in on the differences between the flours we find in our local grocery store and the one that comes out on top! She’s also going to give us a few recipes to try!

Here’s Karen:

There is a difference beyond just the price.

I have always loved baking breads, but I have to admit for years I could never get the professional quality I was after. I have really been doing my homework to reach my goal. It has taken a long time to learn and correct all the mistakes I have been making.

If you want high quality results, then you must buy high quality ingredients. I was determined to be the baker of some that I admire. My first step was to follow the guide from Peter Reinhart’s book – The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

It was through his book I learned about King Arthur Flour. Not only what kind of flour the pros use, but to weigh ingredients over measuring. I decided to do my own test in my kitchen. I would make a loaf with my old brand and one with King Arthur Flour.

I set out to learn what was so different about King Arthur Flour vs. other brands. I found King Arthur Flour has a higher protein content than many other brands.  What sets King Arthur Flour apart is its consistent protein content. They hold their flour to the strictest specifications in the industry; what that means is that for any given type of flour, the protein content will not vary from bag to bag, week to week, year to year.

For example, the all-purpose flour has 11.7% protein (bread flour has more, cake flour less), and that is not allowed to vary by more than .02%, meaning you’ll have the same baking results with the flour every time you use it. Other brands cannot make the same guarantee.

After seeing the difference myself, I highly recommend keeping it on hand for your yeast breads, where it works especially well, and you can use up your other brand for items like cookies, which don’t benefit from the extra protein.

My test proved to me the difference in the quality. The big improvement was the texture in my final product. Now, finally after so many tries my bread looks like bread in a bakery. I don’t want to sound like a commercial, but King Arthur Flour has made all the difference in my baking. I know people who will not share their secrets when they find them, but that’s not me. I had to share what I have discovered.

I am now proud to share my homemade bread. Also, I now have the perfect texture with my pizza dough. Every time I am asked for my bread recipes, I always say, be sure to use King Arthur Bread Flour if you want this same texture and taste.

I just refuse to go back to my breads being – just so-so. Being a southern girl I have always used White Lily Self-Rising Flour for my buttermilk biscuits, but today I noticed on King Arthur’s website they have a new self-rising flour. Looks like I’ll be doing another test.

Thanks King Arthur Flour for making me a step above the others.

Below are pictures and recipes of the bread and pizza I made using King Arthur Flour.

No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread
Adapted from a recipe in the New York Times

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups King Arthur Flour all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest 18 hours, at warm room temperature.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to 8-quart heavy cast iron covered pot in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie
Makes two large pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting, shaping dough)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 14-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, whole peeled

Method:

Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a big mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to gradually incorporate water. Mix by hand and form into a ball. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with plastic and let rest in a warm spot for eighteen hours. It will double in size, and bubbles will develop. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, and divide into two equal portions. Fold each dough ball over on itself, seam side down, and let it rest for an hour under a damp kitchen towel.

Place pizza stone in oven on top rack, in topmost position, and preheat at your oven’s highest setting for one hour. Ours maxes out at 550 degrees.

After 18 hours…wish you could smell this.

Pulse tomatoes in a food processor until nearly smooth, with some chunks remaining, about 4-5 one second pulses.

Sprinkle cornmeal on your work surface, and roll dough out to approximately 1/8 – 1/4 inch.

Top each pizza with 1 cup of the cheese, leaving plenty of dough showing through. You do not want an even blanket of cheese on this type of pizza.

Use a spoon to dollop tomato sauce onto pizza surface, again leaving space between each spoonful.

Use pizza peel to transfer pizza to hot stone. Set oven to “broil” on high.

Watch your pizza carefully; it should only take 4-6 minutes to cook. Some blistering and blackening is good. Cut into squares and serve.

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Okay, I’m off to buy King Arthur’s Flour. I never knew there was a difference in flours until now. I can’t wait to try it and see! Thanks so much Karen! I hope to make pizza for the family tonight!

If you’d like to see some more of Karen’s great recipes and tips, you can find them at Where Fours Bloom.

‘Til next time,

sue

Linked to: Creative Christian Mama Six Sister Stuff, Deep Roots at Home

One thought on “How Much Real Difference Is There Between Flours? (Karen Gentry is Back :)

  1. I love this post. Great information. I have been making bread for years, and not tried the King Arthur Flour for it. I will try this. My family loves fresh bread. Thanks for the info and the recipes.
    I love reading all of your posts. I follow you by email.
    Debi

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